Thriving in chaos seems to be what Brooke Ingle does best. So naturally, she decided to become a nurse.
“I’ve been in the most chaotic situations you can imagine,” she says. “I’ve helped strangers in car accidents. During my first year of nursing school, I heard a neighbor scream, and the next thing I knew I was performing CPR.”
Brooke Ingle, hiking
One particularly memorable moment of chaos occurred four years ago when Ingle went rock climbing in southwestern Colorado with a group of friends. Two of her partners were below a piece of the cliff that detached and came crashing down on top of them.
“One friend had a broken neck in two places,” she says. “We thought another broke her back, but she thankfully just suffered some broken ribs. There was no cellphone service, but I felt like I knew what to do. I had to get them stabilize until Flight for Life came and helped a search and rescue team get them out of the canyon.”
With assistance from two other climbers, Ingle helped to safely transport her friends to an emergency room. Upon hearing how she handled the fraught situation, the nurses at the ER suggested that she join their ranks.
“They said I was a natural nurse,” she says.
Fortunately, because they were wearing safety helmets, the friends are now fine and fully mobile (though two in the group never climbed again, and Ingle herself went to PTSD therapy to recover from the episode).
In work or play, Ingle is not one to shy away from surprising situations.
“I’ve always been an explorer,” she says. “I always leave time for shenanigans – whether it’s nursing or climbing. The rope gets stuck. The wind picks up. That’s the way it goes.”
The road to nursing
Raised in Texas, Ingle was the first in her family to graduate from college. Her degrees include a bachelor’s in international relations and an MBA in international business. She toured Europe as part of a study-abroad program. After earning her degrees, she taught English as second language classes in Japan and Mexico.
In 2009, she accepted a position as the manager of a bookstore at Fort Lewis College. She fell in love with Durango, but not necessarily with the job.
“It was a good company that treated me well, but it just wasn’t for me,” she says. “I stuck it out for the health insurance for my family, which was expensive in Durango.”
An avid outdoorswoman, Ingle toyed with the idea of being a physical therapist, but the climbing accident revealed a clearer path to nursing. She enrolled in the University of Colorado College of Nursing’s RN to BS in Nursing dual-enrollment pathway through Pueblo Community College. After receiving her ADN in nursing last May (graduating magna cum laude), she will earn her BSN from CU Nursing in December.
“The program was definitely attractive because the time, money, and investment wasn’t much for what I got in return,” she says. “I also think that a BSN is considered a benchmark for entry into the nursing profession at this time. A BSN gives students the tools to keep learning, and to view nursing as a continuation of education, and that there can be different kinds of nurses.”
Currently, Ingle works at a long-term care, skilled nursing site in Durango where she cares for dementia patients.
“I really like a holistic approach to healing,” she says. "I wanted a closer emotional connection to my patients than I experienced in the hospital setting. Now I’m in long-term care and I love it. It’s more fulfilling for me. There’s never a boring day there.”
“Climbing and nursing both demand a heady
combination of perfection and improvisation.”
– CU Nursing Student Brooke Ingle, RN
Approaching 50, Ingle says she currently has no short-term aspirations to further advance her education.
“I think four degrees is enough for now,” she says. “I’m about 15 years away from retirement. I’m going to enjoy this career and retire from it.”
But Ingle still has plenty of mountains to climb and no plans to slow down. She notes there are some parallels between climbing and nursing.
“Just like I get my scrubs ready at night for when I leave for work at 6 in the morning, I also get my climbing stuff ready at night for when I leave at six in the morning,” she says. “A measure of routine gives me the freedom to improvise and be flexible and think outside of the box. Climbing and nursing both demand a heady combination of perfection and improvisation.”
Her advice to other RN to BSN students: “A BSN offers nurses a well-rounded approach to nursing beyond a skills-based ADN degree. The BSN degree program creates, not just a nurse, but a nurse leader.”